Lawyers as Rugby Players

Rugby is a sport for lawyers.  During the game, you hit and scratch and kick to win.  However, when the game is done, the two teams retire to enjoy themselves together.  That is a model for good lawyering.

Sure there are lawyers whose mother would not want to have a beer with them.  But, by and large, the most successful and cost-effective problem solving and advocacy occurs when there is mutual respect and dignity between the opposing lawyers.  Some clients are uncomfortable with that, and expect their lawyers to show unyielding antagonism for opposing counsel.  One thing that is certain to accomplish is a higher bill for legal services.  In some cases, that is necessary, but your case will likely suffer if every step of the process is complicated by excessive ill will and distrust.

After over 30 years of doing this, I am convinced that having a working relationship with my enemy, when it can be had, is in my client’s best interest.  Your lawyer should hate to lose, and must do everything within the governing ethical rules to serve your best interests.  However, while wide-eyed, no-holds-barred advocacy may sometimes be comforting to a client, the clearest professional judgment, the least unnecessary expense and the best outcome are more likely when there is a minimum of personal enmity between lawyers.

By:  Peter G. Webb

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